There are a lot of people in the world and not all of them are decent. I’m not talking about the mass shooters or the serial killers either. Of course, they’re not decent either. I’m talking about the negative, passive-aggressive, gossipy, two-faced everyday people we come across in our lives. They can even be “friends” and relatives.
As I’ve grown older my circle shrinks. There are less people whose values align with me. That doesn’t mean I cut people off if they are different politically or decide to go Vegan. Opposing ideas are good to keep around. Not so good are those people’s whose values just don’t align. Those people that have two personas. Those people that seem to have a hidden agenda. The inauthentic.
We can’t hide from them or exclude them from every aspect of our lives but we can limit our contact. It’s really really hard to let go of longtime friends or limit family relations but you’ll know it’s time when you dread seeing the number on your cell or the feeling that every encounter is something you must survive.
I know that can be every Thanksgiving for a lot of people but life is just too short to merely survive instances and holidays.
Here are some ideas I’ve developed for getting out of awful relationships:
- Lay out the rules. Often telling the person straightens them up. “If you speak badly about my spouse when we are around, I’m afraid I won’t be able to attend these functions anymore.” You’d be amazed how many rude or gossipy people simply continue because nobody ever calls them on it.
- Limit your contact with them. People get the hint when you stop returning calls or politely decline invitations. Your time and attention is your most precious commodity. Sometimes people behave better when you limit how much of the commodity you’re willing to give.
- Just let them go. This is the hardest one. Sometimes you just have to walk away. Declare emotional bankruptcy. Delete and block the contact. Go live your life.
There is a saying attributed to Helen Keller that says, “Look toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”
Go find your tribe in the sun. You may have to take a long walk and reach, but you will find them.